A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Friday, January 06, 2006


The book I am most excited for this year, besides my own, is The Gift of Numbers by Yoko Ogawa. It's her first book in English, and so far I have only read two short stories by her, but when I read "The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain" in the 9/6/04 issue of The New Yorker, I was immediaely captivated by Ogawa's way with words. This was reinforced by her story "Pregnancy Diary" in the recent 12/26/05-1/2/06 issue of the same magazine. In fact, if you look at the long gap between the two stories and consider that I spent that whole time eagerly checking each new issue to see if her name appeared again, you will start to get an idea of how heavy a chord Ogawa's prose struck with me.

The thing that resonates the most with me in Ogawa's work is her ability to take a normal situation and with very simple language make it feel almost supernatural. In "Cafeteria," a woman has moved to a new town and the very regular cafeteria of a nearby school takes on a sort of surreal significance; in "Pregnancy Diary," another woman views her sister's pregnancy like she is in a horror movie where an outside force is taking over someone's body, but without ever making that metaphor explicit. There are no secret fears that the baby will emerge as a monstrous beast eating its way out of the mother's belly, it's all done with hypnotic inference.

So, this is my pick to click: Yoko Ogawa's The Gift of Numbers.

There is no cover art available yet, so I chose this cover of a French edition of one of Ogawa's other books because it should look familiar to Creatures fans.

Also on the literary tip, I posted a short review of Long Hot Summer by Eric Stephenson and Jamie McKelvie on Amazon. Follow the link.

The update on the homefront is that it looks like the repair that was done on Wednesday finally clicked. At least, we've had nearly 48 hours without incident. My understanding is that the problem was when the clamps were applied to the leaks, they plugged them up just fine, but when the hot water was pumped through, the pipes got hot, as did the bolt on the clamp; however, the nut on the bolt stayed the same temperature and so was pushed off by the heat. Once they figured that out, they tried a new solution that appears to have worked.

On the DVD front, Universal is going to replace the cover for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Buena Vista is sending me new ones for The Grifters and Farewell My Concubine, a foxy friend at Fox thinks he can take care of Grapes of Wrath for me, and The Five Obstructions has been upgraded to salvageable. Sadly, Warner Brothers apparently does not make replacements for packaging, not even at a cost to the consumer, so Giant will remain as is. I haven't yet heard back from MGM regarding Fellini's Roma and The Great Escape, and the remaining two films are from smaller houses that seem to have either disappeared or been swallowed by someone else and so I haven't figured out who to contact on those yet. But all in all, the results aren't too terrible.

Current Soundtrack: The Style Council, The Cost of Loving; Erasure, "Rock Me Gently" remix single

Current Mood: relieved

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[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

1 comment:

Jason Arnett said...

I know I'm not hip enough to hang with you, but I read your post yesterday and then the story this morning. It's everything you said it was, and I was very taken with her imagery and the sense of alone-ness the sister had. It's beautiful work. Thanks for pointing it out.

Something occurred to me after I finished about translation, though. Word-for-word, literal translations are impossible aren't they? So when something like this that's so vivid is translated, how much of it is really the original writer and how much is the translators slightly changing things around? What are your thoughts on this?

Any way, I'm glad I read this story. I'll watch for more work by her.